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exercise during ramadan

Exercising During Ramadan

Most people reduce their workouts during Ramadan by stating “It’s Ramadan so I should rest.” The general misconception is to cut back totally on our workout and resume only after Eid El-Fitr. Avoid using Ramadan as an excuse to not exercise. When you are already exercising you don’t want to stop altogether since an entire month of inactivity can give you major setbacks in strength and cardiovascular endurance. Not to mention the emotional and mental effort it would take to become consistent again. Discontinuing exercise can also cause weight gain during Ramadan.

Why is exercising good during Ramadan?
Many people have stated that they gain weight throughout Ramadan. Here are the reasons:

  • Intake is higher than the output. 
  • Once the fast is broken at night, food is enjoyed and sleep overtakes you.
  • The body systems slow.
  • The components of food are stored during sleep. 

But if there is a committed effort to exercise during the day, then the food that is consumed will go toward muscle repair.

What is the ideal time of the day to exercise during Ramadan?
You have 2 options:
Option 1: Early in the morning. You can wake up just 20 minutes earlier than you would usually for Suhur so you can work out and then eat straight away. Or exercise after the suhur, the most important meal during Ramadan.
Option 2: After one hour of Iftar, you can exercise then you can have another light meal.

What to eat before exercise?
In order to maximize the benefits you receive from your workouts, your body needs energy. Generally, you should eat a meal approximately two hours before working out, and a snack approximately 30 minutes before exercising. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates, sufficient in protein and moderate in fiber and fat are recommended before exercise. Examples of suitable foods include:
-Fruits or fruit juices.
Complex carbohydrates like whole grain bread or cereal.
Low-fat dairy products like low-fat yogurt topped with fruit or flavored yogurt,  low-fat milk
-Smoothies made with fruits and milk or yogurt.

What to eat after exercise?
The ideal time to eat is 15 to 30 minutes after exercising. What you eat after your workout is just as important as the workout itself. The best snack or meal should include protein and carbohydrates. The combination of the two helps the body recover, build muscle and maintain energy. Great choices include:
-Yogurt and fruit
-Cereal and milk
-Nuts and dried fruit
-Peanut butter with a whole wheat toast
-Cheese and crackers
-Or a meal with: protein, starch and cooked vegetables.

Electrolytes are essential chemical substances that are important for the metabolism of all the cells in your body. Electrolytes include potassium and sodium. Replace lost potassium electrolytes by eating potassium-rich dried apricots, bananas, raisins, and dates.
N.B: Do not forget to drink 2 to 3 liters during the time that you are allowed to drink. Stay hydrated!

What should be our goals in fitness during Ramadan?
Making fitness or weight loss improvements requires you giving your body a deficient of some sort which causes a decrease in energy. This can considerably affect your ability to fast. So instead of overworking your system to get your body to modify, simply maintain your athletic performance during Ramadan and prevent yourself from going backwards.

What should be the intensity of exercising?
When we fast, our bodies logically become less active because of the reduced energy that we are getting from food. Therefore, it is advisable to decrease the level or intensity of the exercise:

  • If you usually run, reduce to a speed walk. 
  • If you lift weights using 15 kg, make them 10 kg.
  • If you usually workout for an hour, reduce your workout time to 30-45 minutes.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon

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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian